Rikard Nilsson: We Create Next Generation Cybersecurity Products

August 7, 2022

We create next generation cybersecurity products. Incorporated in U.K., however since early 2020 we have moved almost all operations to Tallinn, Estonia.

Our first product, Vustick, aimed to simplify complexity in penetration testing by building a platform that integrated cutting-edge hardware and advanced AI technology in one package, which led us down an exciting path of discovery!

As great ideas evolve, they never come out as you thought when starting because we learn so much along our way – the same applies to Vuntie as a company.

Our focus on hardware solutions in cybersecurity gave us the opportunity to be in the right place at the right time.

It allowed us to make the jump to provide cybersecurity consulting services to the world’s most challenging and critical industries.

Moreover, since our solutions cross the boundaries between software and hardware, it gives us unique insights into the shifting cyber threat landscape.

Our next focus is defending human rights in cyberspace, we’re still working with different investors all over Europe so the full information can’t be presented yet.

However, I can say that one of the products will be a fully encrypted mobile phone designed specifically for NGOs in repressed countries such as the Russian Federation and Belarus.

Tell us about yourself?

I started to do programming as a kid back in the late 1999s for Mac OS and PalmOS, later graduated as Msc in Information Systems from Linköpings University in 2012, spent some time as director of business development and senior AML analysist along the way.

Cybersecurity has always been a growing concern in the IT industry, and I felt that it was time for something new.

Selling apps and websites is very difficult, as almost every potential client already knows an agency and quality rarely matters, in most cases it is a business connected to personal relationships.

In cybersecurity, on the other hand, people are much more willing to work with innovative startups, since for obvious reasons, security is much more important than the look of the website, even if that is quite sad.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Operating Vuntie as bootstrapped caused huge delays in production of new products, and recently we reviewed our stand and opened up for discussions with angle investors. Indeed, being bootstrapped gives full decision freedom but, at the same time, it might not be worth it.

What problem does your business solve?

I believe that we try to solve the most important problem today in the IT industry – security. Despite all the cool innovations in the last 20 years, the industry has failed to protect its customers from cyberattacks.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

The special thing with Vuntie is that we do both hardware and software and this is quite unique in the cybersecurity industry. For example, almost the entire market for offensive cybersecurity products is focused on providing software or some kind of hardware.

Yes, similar products to Vustick (rebranded from hackstick) existed before we started doing business in 2019 but unless they were produced by spyware firms and sold in secret to government organizations, all of them required the user themselves to write the scripts to make it work.

Generally speaking, we believe that customers want something like Apple products that works out of the box – not some kind of IKEA product that you assemble yourself and send 20 days of configuring using Youtube guides and reading forums.

What is your magic sauce?

Instead of repeating that we are crossing the boundaries between software and hardware, I will actually say experience. Most of our team was a part of the early Mac OS X development community, we met online at the client/server platforms Carracho and Hotline and developed friendships and business partnerships for life.

Back in those days, the industry was like the wild west – if you knew how to program Objective C and had some bright ideas, it was impossible to create some kind of app within a week and start to monetarize it using the Kagi payment platform.

Yes, we released updates that did not work correctly and we got angry e-mails from customers, it might not be the proudest moment of my life, but at the same time we learned how everything should be done correctly at an early stage in life.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

In the next 5 years, we either will be the leading cybersecurity company defending human rights online or we will end up being bought up by some evil corporation or maybe we will just crash and burn and end up going back to Sweden and living on social welfare.

I usually love the sentence “let us see what happens”, and I believe that this applies to both Vuntie and myself.

I strongly believe in the mission that human rights must be defended at all costs when online repression is growing, even if it lands me in a cell in Lefortovo, KGB prison Moscow because Vuntie sold equipment to NGOs trying to archive democracy and free elections in Russia.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

Being stubborn regarding keeping the company bootstrapped and not always working with the best hardware suppliers. Once a prototype caught fire during stress-testing in our office and it wasn’t very pleasant.

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

We want to develop relations with all kinds of NGOs in repressed countries around the world and bring them the devices they need to protect their freedom.

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